Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Abused: Chapter 5


The forthcoming novel being published by 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com) is titled The Abused. Eight addicts go to rehab and instead of recovering, someone starts killing off the patients. 

5

            Frank Haley was a 20-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol. Like most patrolman, Frank loved his motorcycle best. The feeling of the open air and being on the road exhilarated him. He named his bike Mitzi after his first love, a girl he met at the academy who got hit by a tow truck driver who was on meth and didn’t see her on the side of the road. Mitzi died on impact, and Frank grieved his love and gave homage to her by naming his motorcycle after her.
            Over the years his superiors had encourage the astute patrolman to take the supervisor’s test and come in off the road, but Frank had no interest in a desk job. He felt perfectly satisfied to be outside and on the road mostly pulling over speeders and occasionally running into some dumbass who carried pot in his car like it was cigarettes. A few yelling matches with people who refuted going 100 mph and the occasional resistor were among the usual suspects in his daily work. Frank didn’t mind. He wasn’t looking for glory.
            Frank’s life had gone along pretty unremarkably until about a year ago. He had never married since he felt Mitzi was his soul mate and there would never be another. He lived quietly in South Sacramento in a small ranch-style house. His only indulgence in life was supping up his personal motorcycle, a custom-built Harley that he took out on weekends. Yes, Frank was overall a satisfied guy – that is, until the unthinkable happened.
His best friend Jonesy Clark had been a fit guy. He had run five miles a day and watched what he ate. Loved to show Frank his juicer and the various fruit and vegetable concoctions he made. Frank remembered one peach and tomato job Jonesy insisted he drink that he politely dumped in the nearest plant pot when Jonesy was in the other room. Jonesy had been going on and on about essential oils curing everything down to the plague. He was in the other room searching for the Young Living Desk Reference Book. Frank found the nearest fern pot and dumped the horrible drink into it with Jonesy none the wiser.
Their friendship was bonded over their mutual love of “the bike”. They became two bachelors consumed with weekend rides up and down the coast and through the Sierras. Both men loved women, but their friendship became a kind of spouse relationship. The two could be found bickering over bike parts and which destination they would visit that weekend. Jonesy loved the Tahoe area and Frank liked Northern California and Eureka. He enjoyed jetting down the Avenue of the Giants or gliding around Clear Lake. Most of the time the dispute was settled over a coin toss and a quick shot of Tequila.
On this particular weekend Frank won the coin toss and they soon found their long journey ended at Patrick’s Point, a scenic camping spot just north of Eureka. Frank like this campground because it sat among a lean pine forest and sites were carved out of ferns and lush vines. It got cold and foggy at night, but it was fun to take the long staircase down to the beach below. Jonesy naturally ran the stairs for exercise. Frank was always unimpressed by Jonesy’s strident jog down and up those stairs. Almost to make a statement of “who cares how fit you are,” Frank would stroll at his leisure to the beach.
            On this outing Frank was in his usual laid-back mood. Jonesy was already feisty and ready to jog. They were standing in front of the morning fire watching the gray tin coffee pot that sat on the grill begin to bubble up. Jonesy wore a green jogging suit, and Frank had a woolen shirt on with Levi’s. He stood with his hands in his pockets fighting off the morning chill.
            “So, what’s the plan my man,” asked Frank.
            “Do you always have to say that?”
            “Yup.”
            “Christ Frank you sound like a moron.”
            “Thanks!” chuckled Frank.
            The insult never bothered Frank. He knew Jonesy was chiding him.
            “I’m taking a run. How bout you?”
            Frank laughed, “Um no.”
            “Fuck Frank you’re going to fall over some day from laziness and too much cholesterol.”
            Frank grabbed the iron skillet and held up the eggs, “Tell you what! You take your dam jog and by the time you get back breakfast will be ready. That is, if I don’t die of a heart attack.”
            “Eh, fuck you!” said Jonesy as he turned to jog off.
            “See you later Lucy,” called Frank.
            Jonesy held up his middle finger and flipped off Frank, who just laughed again. The morning rolled on and Frank began to scramble eggs. He set the bacon on the grill. BBQ bacon rocked. Then he set out to making hash browns from the frozen packs where the potatoes were squared off already. He didn’t like frozen hash browns as much as the real thing but when camping and limited storage space, he would settle for it.
            He had just sat down for a sip of coffee when campers started gathering at the edge of the trailhead. A lot of tittering and talk was going on. Frank’s “Spidey sense” went up. He wondered what was going on. People seemed in distress. A woman walked past and Frank stood up.
            “What’s going on?”
            The woman shook her head, “Some guy fell off the trail.”
            Frank was alarmed. Fear began to simmer inside of him like the coffee beginning to brew. He wasn’t sure if he should go look or just blow it off. “No way,” he thought. Yet anxiety grew in him like multiplying bacteria. He slowly started to make his way toward the crowd. People were talking. He heard one man say, “Yeah, he’s like crushed.” Now Frank was even more concerned. Crushed? That didn’t sound good at all. Finally, riding on a wave of sheer panic, Frank got to the edge and could see down. As his eyes focused on the mangled body below, he knew … within a second he turned and vomited on the dirt. Jonesy was dead. His best friend and companion of years – dead and mangled on a pile of earth and rocks next to the sea.

            In the following months Frank became consumed by grief. He had never had someone this close to him die, and certainly not be killed in such a horrible way. Mitzi had been a brief love affair, but not a lifetime of shared memories and friendship. Witnesses had said Jonesy was gliding swiftly down the stairs when he appeared to lose footing. He had stumbled, regained balance, and then for some reason lost his balance and tumbled down the cliff like a bouncing ball. He fell hundreds of feet to his swift death.
            Frank kept replaying in his mind the events of that morning. He wished he had gone running with Jonesy. Maybe he could have helped him. Maybe he could have grabbed him. Maybe he could have saved his best friend. He replayed that morning in his mind over and over again. He obsessed day and night. Everyone on the force became worried about the mild-mannered Frank who was so obviously distraught.
            Soon Frank could no longer manage to get out of bed in the morning. He called in sick more days than he worked. He had racked up a ton of sick days from his 20 years on the force and never taking a day off much less a sick day. He slept and ate and slept.
            Finally after nearly two weeks of absence, his riding partner Lucas Miller stopped at the house. Lucas was an African American with a tall, lean build and a wild reputation for kinky sex with the ladies. It was rumored that he hosted orgies at his West Sacramento home, but no one on the force was ever invited. Lucas was good about keeping his work and private life separate. Frank and Lucas got along well, and Frank didn’t mind Lucas’ liberal attitude and beliefs. Lucas always voted Democrat and any law that would legalize anything “funky” as Lucas described it was always on his agenda.
            Frank let Lucas in the house that day. Lucas stared in shock at his once-tidy friend’s home. Old pizza boxes, dirty glasses, and clothes were strewn everywhere. Frank had clearly checked out of life. As Lucas walked in he kicked aside a McDonald’s bag and out flew green French fries.
            “Ah man, that’s nasty,” said Lucas. “What the fuck Frank. You’re living in filth.”
            Frank, who was wearing nothing but a dirty black pajama bottoms, looked at his partner and shrugged. He didn’t care anymore and that was obvious.
            “Jesus man! You got to get over this thing.”
            Frank sank into his littered sofa and hardly noticed the Coke soda can that rolled across the floor after he inadvertently kicked it. Lucas came over and sat on the edge of the soiled sofa. He put his elbows on his knees and looked with deep concern at his partner. He pulled out a baggy of pills and threw it at him.
            “Take those,” he urged. “You’ll feel better man. Help you forget.”
            “What?” questioned Frank as he inspected the bag filled with white pills.
            “Yeah man. Just take ‘em.”
            “What are they?”
            “Oxycotin,” the word spilled off his tongue like it was nothing. “Takes the edge off everything. You’ll see. You’ll be back working in no time.”
            “Are you serious?”
            “Man, you want to lose your job? Fucking take the pills. Once you feel better it’s all good, right?” Lucas slapped Frank’s thigh and got up. “Just take ‘em,” he urged.
            Frank studied the baggy for a moment. He had never done drugs. Lucas left him there to look at the pills.           

            Three months later Frank was a complete drug addict. Oxycotin was but one of his drugs du jour. After enjoying the incredible numbing effect of Oxycotin, Frank easily moved to heroine after they busted a runner coming up Highway 5 to make a delivery. Frank initially swiped just a little, and found he loved the instant high and the sensation of caring about nothing. At first he thought he could handle it. He would only inject the junk at night or on weekends; but a casual dalliance soon got out of control.
            The final meltdown came on the eve of Jonesy’s death. Rather than face his pain, Frank injected and snorted heroine. He then downed a handful of Vicodin he had procured on his own after faking back pain, and before he knew it he was floating in midair. Lucas found his partner in the locker room at work with frothing vomit coming out of his mouth.
            This is how Frank came to find himself being dropped off by Lucas in front of the rehab center the same day as Deacon. Like all the others Ms. Fisher met him out front. She had her intake clipboard with her. She looked at it and back at Frank.
            “So, the hard stuff, huh,” she bluntly said.
            Frank nodded. He felt ashamed and was already feeling like shit. He knew detox was next, and since he had busted more than a few addicts in his time he also knew it would not be pleasant.
            “I see we’re going to put you out so you can get off the “H”,” she said.
            Frank nodded again.
            “Hmm… sign here.”
            “What’s this?” asked Frank.
            “It says you understand that if you use heroine again after we put you out to detox you could overdose and die.”
            “Oh,” replied Frank who easily signed it. He didn’t fucking care if he died anyway so why not.
            Once he signed, Ms. Fisher led him through the same doors as the others.


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